Bentley is marking its centenary – to the day – by launching a large and highly intelligent electric car called the EXP 100 GT.
The concept is designed as a physical embodiment of the future of Bentley to show what sustainable opulence could be like in 2035.
The car, which will be capable of both “autonomous and enjoyable” driving, has been created in-house in Crewe by a team led by design director Stefan Sielaff. It's a huge, coupé-like high-performance car with two massive lifting doors but the dimensions and interior space of a limousine.
Inside, the EXP 100 GT is designed to use artificial intelligence to provide a level of luxury unknown in cars at present. Its secret weapon, a so-called Bentley Personal Assistant controllable from screens front and rear, aims to improve not just occupants’ comfort but also their wellbeing by minutely recording all manner of their preferences and configuring the car to suit.
The EXP 100 GT takes interactivity well beyond what we know today: its systems will learn and eventually anticipate occupants’ desires when factors such as light conditions, road surface or weather change. Bentley wants to move the EXP 100 GT – and its future models – well beyond simple A to B travel: cars like this will be for “extraordinary and emotional human experiences”.
Luxury in 2035 will extend, Bentley says, to harnessing and redirecting natural light, filtering and redirecting natural airflow and making much more imaginative use of mostly sustainable trim materials to create a link between the car’s occupants and the world outside. It will even be possible, it claims, to offer the feeling of open-top motoring under the car’s glass canopy.
The 100 GT is the latest in a decades-long family of Bentley EXP concepts, most of which have had considerable relevance to the look and specification of production models that came after them. It has an electric powertrain dubbed Next Generation Traction Drive that uses four 201-335bhp electric motors and an advanced torque vectoring system to distribute a combined output of between 800 and 1340bhp to all four wheels, depending on spec.
The combined peak torque is revealed at just over 1100lb ft, which, given that electric motors develop maximum torque at the very bottom of their range, easily accounts for the eyewatering estimated 0-62mph of 2.5sec, along with a top speed of 186mph.
Although it has also been designed to accommodate a fuel cell stack, the EXP 100 GT paints a very optimistic picture of battery progress over the next 16 years. The range is claimed at 435 miles even though the GT’s overall mass is tipped to fall to 1900kg – around 35% lighter than a car with similar capabilities would weigh today. That should be very beneficial to cornering, braking and agility.